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University of Dundee School of Life Sciences Distinguished Lecture: Food for the Future – The C4 Rice Project

Lecture
26 April 2016, 4:00pm
at Discovery Centre, School of Life Sciences, University of Dundee, Old Hawkhill DD1 5EH
for scientists, students and other interested parties
Professor Jane Langdale, University of Oxford

The C4 Rice Project is one of the scientific ‘Grand Challenges’ of the 21st century. Researchers from 12 institutions in 8 countries are working together to apply innovative scientific approaches to the development of high-yielding rice varieties for smallholder farmers. Over 3 billion people depend on rice for survival. Due to predicted population increases and a general trend towards urbanization, land that currently provides enough rice to feed 27 people will need to support 43 by 2050. In this context, rice yields need to increase by 50% over the next 35 years. Given that yield increases from traditional breeding programs have plateaued, the world (South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa in particular) is facing an unprecedented level of food shortages. The introduction of ‘C4’ traits into rice is predicted to increase photosynthetic efficiency by 50%, improve nitrogen use efficiency and double water use efficiency. The project, therefore, represents one of the most likely approaches to enhancing crop yield and increasing resilience in the face of reduced land area, decreased use of fertilizers and less predictable supplies of water. 

Professor Jane Langdale graduated from the University of Bath with a BSc in Applied Biology and then went on to do a Ph.D. in Human Genetics at the University of London. For her postdoc, she moved to Yale University to work on the molecular and genetic basis of plant development. Her current research is broadly themed upon the genetics and evolution of plant development (see langdalelab.com). Diverse taxa including mosses, ferns and seed plants are used to investigate how developmental mechanisms were modified during land plant evolution. Also, knowledge of chloroplast development and leaf anatomy is being applied in the context of the international effort to engineer C4 rice (see c4rice.com). Since 2006, she has been Professor of Plant Development in the Plant Sciences Department at the University of Oxford, and a Senior Research Fellow at The Queen’s College Oxford. She was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2015.


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.